I don't think Space Quest allowed you to get past a certain point without something you needed. Then again, I suppose it is possible.
But yeah, I do remember dying. A lot! There was one particular spot near the beginning of SQ2 where you'd have to navigate between the tentacles of a human-eating-plant. I died so many times doing that--and without remembering to save so I'd have to start from the very beginning--that I finally got through it by taking about two steps, saving, two more steps, save again, etc.